Coworking space opens up temporary daycare during Portland teachers strike

As the Portland teacher’s strike continues for a third week, some parents are turning to unconventional sources for childcare.
Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 5:25 PM PST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - As the Portland teacher’s strike continues for a third week, some parents are turning to unconventional sources for childcare.

One of those places is the Vida coworking facility, a community space for remote workers to gather during the day. During the pandemic, owner Melanie Marconi decided to open a temporary daycare inside of her business to allow parents to work while their kids received childcare.

She told FOX 12 on Tuesday that when she found out a teacher’s strike was imminent, she knew what she had to do.

“As the rumblings started happening that the strike might happen, I said you know, we still have our teacher on staff, and we have the space here at Beaverton, so let’s tentatively throw it together and have it available in case we needed it,” Marconi said.

Vida’s new Beaverton location has been accepting up to 10 kids from Monday through Thursday, and most days, they have been completely full. At times, Marconi said, they have even had to turn families away.

“We really wanted to accommodate everybody,” she said. “Parents are still needing to work, and need some additional support during this time and we really want to be there for everybody, but we want to make sure that it doesn’t feel too overwhelming.”

During the day, kids alternate between free play time, science projects, and personal homework.

She said the flexibility has been an attractive option for parents.

“You can bring your kid, they go to their program, parents can go into their offices and work, and when the program is over the parents pick them up and go home,” Marconi said. Parents like Courtney O’Leary, a freelance copywriter who was initially worried when the strike was announced.

“I tried not to panic, it was stressful and brought back a lot of the feelings of COVID, of the uncertainty, the unknown,” Marconi said.

But O’Leary said Vida’s flexible program has taken a weight off her shoulders, and it’s been worth the extra $50 a day to make sure her kids have a place to go. ”They were also very hesitant about what are we going to do, what is this going to be like, as they were saying they were quite ‘sus’ about it all,” O’Leary chuckled. “After the first day, they asked if they could come back every single day.”

”You get to choose what you want to learn if you want to do reading or writing or math, and you get to have lots of free time and get to go outside longer,” said 10-year-old Althea.

”On the first day, me and Althea got to teach everyone how to make slime, and tomorrow we’re going to teach everyone how to do gymnastics,” 10-year-old Ellie said.

Both kids added that they would be sad to return to ‘normal’ school.

“I’ll be sad of course, but I’ll also be happy because when we go back to school that means the teachers will get what they requested and they’ll get more money,” Ellie added. Marconi is not sure how much longer the strike will continue, but she said they’ll stay open for as long as they are needed.

“Anything we can do in our community to support and even provide a little community for parents, I think is really important,” she said.

For more information about Vida, you can visit their website here: VIDA Coworking Space Portland | A Unique Shared Workspace